when more than one agent asks for a submission

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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bigheadx
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when more than one agent asks for a submission

Post by bigheadx » July 24th, 2010, 1:59 pm

I need some advice.

Here's the situation: Last week an agency requested a full submission and asked me for an "exclusive" while they read my novel. I asked around (including published/represented authors) and was told that this is not unusual or unexpected. Since then, I have sent out no more queries but I do have several still in circulation.

Today I received a very nice email from a second agency with a request for a partial submission. How should I handle this second request? Let them know it is currently being read and I will contact them as soon as I hear yea/nay from the first agency? Say/do nothing?

I am still a bit new at this, so many thanks in advance for any advice!
John

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Re: when more than one agent asks for a submission

Post by Krista G. » July 24th, 2010, 2:48 pm

Sounds like you've got the right idea, bigheadx. Let the second agent know that the manuscript is out on exclusive to another agent and that you'll contact him/her as soon as you know on the other.

And I hope you set a deadline on that exclusive submission. In fact, if you didn't, you might want to follow up with the first agent and nail that date down exactly.

Good luck!
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Re: when more than one agent asks for a submission

Post by AMSchilling » July 24th, 2010, 5:30 pm

A read-through on a full can take 2-4 months or more, at which point the other agency might not even remember you. I'd be interested to hear what Nathan had to say about this, considering that. Would the second agent be willing to wait, and if so actually remember you by the time the feedback from the full read came back?
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bigheadx
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Re: when more than one agent asks for a submission

Post by bigheadx » July 24th, 2010, 8:36 pm

I'm red-faced because I forgot to mention that the full submission agency gave me a 10-14 day window.

I have some experience with film agents and in that world things are a bit wide-open and wild west, but I don't know proper literary agency protocol (yet).

Thanks!

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HillaryJ
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Re: when more than one agent asks for a submission

Post by HillaryJ » July 24th, 2010, 8:41 pm

Generally, if you grant an exclusive, you want to in fact honor your side of it. Did you give the first agent a timeline, as in "you may have an exclusive for 1 month"? If not, I recommend the following (tailor as you are comfortable):

1. Promptly advise the second agent that you have granted an exclusive and ask if it's alright for you to submit the partial once the exclusive is up. Agents have encountered this situation before and will usually be understanding.

2. Give the first agent the time you agreed to, and then politely advise that you have received additional requests and that you're going to be sending manuscripts to other agents who have requested them. If you didn't agree to a timeline with the first agent, give him/her a month to six weeks and then prompt, letting him/her know you've had additional interest and would like to move forward. Ask if first agent would like another week, maybe. Then they know that your ms is generating interest and will either offer representation, push it to the top of their stack, or hasten their rejection.

I had three agents reading on a nonexclusive basis when I was asked for an exclusive. The agent understood when I told him I would send him the ms after responses from the other agents. It happens. Just be honest, professional, and don't push with "other people want to read this, so hurry up" type communications, and you should be fine.

And, congratulations on the interest. That's great!
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Re: when more than one agent asks for a submission

Post by HillaryJ » July 24th, 2010, 8:43 pm

bigheadx wrote:I'm red-faced because I forgot to mention that the full submission agency gave me a 10-14 day window.

I have some experience with film agents and in that world things are a bit wide-open and wild west, but I don't know proper literary agency protocol (yet).

Thanks!
This is the first agent that asked on a non-exclusive basis, and you haven't yet sent it? Do you have any indication, from their website, or querytracker or absolutewrite.com about how quickly they respond to fulls?
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bigheadx
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Re: when more than one agent asks for a submission

Post by bigheadx » July 24th, 2010, 8:49 pm

First agent requested full submission and 10-14 day exclusive. Second requested the partial (email rec'd today) and no exclusive. Sorry to confuse things.

HillaryJ wrote:
bigheadx wrote:I'm red-faced because I forgot to mention that the full submission agency gave me a 10-14 day window.

I have some experience with film agents and in that world things are a bit wide-open and wild west, but I don't know proper literary agency protocol (yet).

Thanks!
This is the first agent that asked on a non-exclusive basis, and you haven't yet sent it? Do you have any indication, from their website, or querytracker or absolutewrite.com about how quickly they respond to fulls?

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HillaryJ
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Re: when more than one agent asks for a submission

Post by HillaryJ » July 24th, 2010, 9:35 pm

Oh! I probably just misread. That's a nice timeline on an exclusive. Presumably you queried that agency because it appealed to you, so grant the exclusive and advise the second agent that there will be a slight delay during the period of exclusivity. Shouldn't be a problem.
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bigheadx
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Re: when more than one agent asks for a submission

Post by bigheadx » July 28th, 2010, 1:28 pm

Thanks, Hillary! Got another request for a partial this past weekend. The first partial sent me a very charming and informative reply when I explained the exclusive. And even said they would wait! :)
HillaryJ wrote:Oh! I probably just misread. That's a nice timeline on an exclusive. Presumably you queried that agency because it appealed to you, so grant the exclusive and advise the second agent that there will be a slight delay during the period of exclusivity. Shouldn't be a problem.

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Re: when more than one agent asks for a submission

Post by bcomet » July 28th, 2010, 4:13 pm

Go BigHeadX!!!

Congratulations! That is soooooo great!!!


Can I ask, what is your book about? (See, I don't know anything and even I'm interested! It's contagious!)

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Re: when more than one agent asks for a submission

Post by bigheadx » July 28th, 2010, 4:18 pm

You can see the query thread at viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1418 and also all the excellent advice I rec'd from other NB participants.

Thanks for the good wishes!
bcomet wrote:Go BigHeadX!!!

Congratulations! That is soooooo great!!!


Can I ask, what is your book about? (See, I don't know anything and even I'm interested! It's contagious!)

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